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2023 Star Women in Grocery Award Winner Julia Knox (Q&A)

Senior-Level Star
Julia Knox
Julia Knox

Julia Knox

SVP, Merchandising Services and Retail Enablement

How did you get your start in the grocery?

I got my start in the grocery business in 2005, when I was working in my first job out of university as a management consultant. My first retail client was H-E-B, a large regional grocer based in San Antonio, Tex. After several projects, I joined their team as a full-time employee. It was an inspiring organization to be a part of, and I learned a tremendous amount about excellence in food retailing. I was hooked!

What keeps you passionate about your work?

Serving Canadians—feeding our families and communities is critical work. And there is no shortage of opportunities in this business to get better every day. We have a fantastic team at Empire and a very positive culture. We have fun doing what we do! 

What is a career challenge you've faced and how did you overcome it?

Historically, women have been under-represented in retail leadership roles. That has changed a lot in the last several years; however, earlier in my career it was less common to have female peers on the executive leadership team, especially those with young children. Key to overcoming this was not allowing myself to get weighed down by the challenge, but rather embracing it as an opportunity to change perceptions one positive business impact at a time.

What is the best career advice you've received?

Be very clear on your values and priorities, both personal and professional, and understand your unique strengths. From there, tough business and career decisions can become easier. And, for women with young children, don’t be afraid to ask for help and get the right support systems in place. There is only so much time and energy in the day!

What is your proudest career moment?

I don’t know that I have a particular moment to point to. Instead, I’m proud of the breadth of experience and skills sets I’ve developed over the years, and any small part I have played in inspiring future female leaders in the industry.

How do you like to spend your time outside of work?

Spending time with my two children and my husband is the best part of my week. We enjoy skiing (XC and alpine) and mountain biking, and I also try to find time for solo road biking and trail running.      

I am also Chair of the Board of the Ottawa Cancer Foundation. We’ve been leading an exciting transformation in non-medical cancer support care in Ottawa over the last two years and that has certainly become a passion project!

What is a fun fact about you?

I collect reusable grocery shopping bags when I travel for work (what can I say, a true sign of a retail nerd). I have bags from Germany, the U.K., China and the U.S. in my collection. Plus, a few vintage Giant Tiger bags that are meaningful from my time working there.

Click here for the full list of 2023 Star Women in Grocery award winners.

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